After a restless night, hundreds of NFL players nervously checked their cellphones Saturday morning, cringing every time it buzzed.
Tim Tebow was among those who got the dreaded call telling him to come see the coach and bring in his playbook.
Teams had to whittle their rosters to the 53-man maximum Saturday, and though his release wasn’t a big surprise, Tebow was by far the biggest name among the notable cuts.
“I will remain in relentless pursuit of continuing my lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback,” an undaunted Tebow tweeted.
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After being let go by his third team in 18 months — and with the season just five days away — the quarterback’s chances of immediately catching on with another team seem slim.
Several other veteran QBs also found themselves looking for work on this Labor Day weekend as the Giants released longtime backup David Carr, the Packers cut Vince Young and the Bills chopped Matt Leinart.
Other noteworthy cuts included:
• Eagles RG Danny Watkins
• 49ers LS Brian Jennings
• 49ers WR Austin Collie
• Panthers QB Jimmy Clausen.
• Saints S Jim Leonhard
• Browns K Shayne Graham
• Chargers WR Robert Meachem
Those who made the 53-man rosters had a weekend respite before heading back to work Monday, except for the Broncos and Ravens, who kick off the season Thursday night in Denver.
The Broncos held meetings and a walk-through Saturday after final cuts were made. They’ll practice Sunday, as will the Super Bowl champion Ravens, who are being forced to start the season on the road because baseball’s Orioles wouldn’t move their game in Baltimore that night.
Among Denver’s cuts was veteran running back Lance Ball, paving the way for the injured C.J. Anderson of Cal to make the roster while the Broncos wait for him to recover from a sprained right MCL. That makes 10 straight seasons that an undrafted college free agent has made the Broncos’ opening-day roster.
Two teams have longer streaks: Indianapolis (15 years) and Kansas City (11). The Colts kept 27-year-old rookie linebacker Caesar Rayford, a veteran of the Arena and Canadian leagues, and QB Tyler Bray made the Chiefs’ roster.
Every coach calls this the cruelest day of the year in pro football. But Sunday might prove worse as some bottom-rung players who barely had the chance to celebrate making the team get discharged in favor of waiver-wire pickups.
Teams can also fill their eight-man practice squads Sunday.
This could be it for Tebow, the popular but polarizing player who has provided both his supporters and detractors with plenty of fodder during his 35-game NFL career that includes a 47.9 completion percentage, 17 touchdown throws, nine interceptions, a dozen TD runs and 15 fumbles.
Now Tebow is out of work again and maybe out of chances.